(Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei


US President Barack Obama. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Giving the final Iranian seal of approval, the Islamic Republic’s top leader endorsed the nuclear deal while cautioning of further “US aggression.” 

Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday endorsed the nuclear deal reached between the Islamic Republic world powers, but warned the government to be vigilant, saying the United States cannot be trusted. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, endorsed the deal in a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which was read out on state TV.

Until now, Khamenei had declined to publicly approve or reject the deal, while expressing support for Iran’s negotiators. The agreement reached in July with the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, otherwise known as the P5+1, would curb Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of crippling international sanctions, and is considered by many to be President Barack Obama’s greatest foreign policy achievement.

Western nations have long suspected Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian program, charges rejected by Tehran, which insists its program is entirely peaceful. The agreement has been the subject of fierce debate within Iran, with opponents arguing that the negotiators gave up too much ground. They also fear the agreement could lead to a broader rapprochement with the United States, which they still deride as the “Great Satan.”

Iran’s parliament approved the deal in two stormy sessions that saw lawmakers shout at one another and at least one hard-line parliamentarian burst into tears. Iran’s constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council, ratified the bill a week ago, marking the last legal step for official approval. Khamenei’s expression of support largely resolves the debate in favor of Rouhani’s camp, handing them a major victory ahead of parliamentary elections.

Khamenei Warns of US’ ‘Deceptive Behavior’

Khamenei also warned that the agreement “suffers from multiple structural weaknesses and ambiguous points that can lead to present and future great harms to the country in the absence of precise and constant vigilance.” He added that “any remarks saying the structure of sanctions will remain in place are considered a breach” of the agreement.

Iran's parliament. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iran’s parliament. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

He referred to the US administration’s “continued hostile approach” towards Iran even after reaching the nuclear agreement, and said, “The US president’s remarks in two letters to me saying that he doesn’t intend to overthrow the Islamic Republic were soon proved untrue by his support for seditious moves in Iran, financial support for the dissidents opposed to the Islamic Republic and his clear military threats – and even nuclear threats which can lead to filing a detailed lawsuit against him at the international courts- revealed the US leaders’ real intention.”

Khamenei charged that the “US has shown deceptive behavior during the two years of negotiations, repeated disavowals, accompanied the Zionist regime and picked up a bullying diplomacy to push the European governments and institutes to practice a hostile approach towards Iran, all aimed at advancing Washington’s inimical goals against the Islamic Republic.”

Khamenei said Iran would begin fulfilling its commitments on the redesign of a heavy-water reactor and the trading of enriched uranium for raw uranium from Russia once the UN nuclear watchdog closes its investigation into whether Iran’s nuclear program once had a military dimension.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been trying for more than a decade to probe whether Iran carried out a half-dozen experiments linked to the development of nuclear weapons. Iran denies ever working on such arms and says its present nuclear program is meant only to generate power and is meant for science and medicine.

The IAEA is set to release a final assessment of the allegations on Dec. 15, which will help determine whether all sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear program will be lifted.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff